OBSERVATIONS: Ohtani Mess Has Questions To Answer

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, counting the hours until Opening Day. . .er, make that counting the minutes.

—OH, OH OHTANI: Shohei Ohtani seemed honest and sincere during his ‘no questions asked’ press conference when he said he has never bet on baseball, sports or the future cost of sushi in Japan.

But something still smells rotten from here to Rotterdam.

Ohtani’s long-time translator, Ippei Mizuhara, used $4 1/2 million from Ohtani’s bank accounts to pay off gambling debts. Ohtani said he knew nothing about it.

So how did Mizuhara dip into Ohtani’s account. The only way is if his name, via power of attorney, is on Ohtani’s account. If not, Ohtani had to approve those withdrawals.

And that’s the major question that hasn’t been answered. Is Mizuhara’s name on the account or isn’t it. If it is, he stole $4 1/2 million. If it isn’t, Ohtani gave it to him.

Ohtani also said he knew nothing about an investigation, but his team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, did and they fired Mizuhara. Wouldn’t the Dodgers tell Ohtani what was going down?

If the investigation reveals that Ohtani knew what Mizuhara was doing, or worse, was Mizuhara paying bookies for Ohtani’s bets, will Ohtani land on the same list as our Favorite Son from Cincinnati?

And here is Pete Rose’s response: “Back in the 70s and 80s if I had had an interpreter I’d be Scott free.”

—YOU CAN BET ON IT: Did this really happen and if it did is this the height of hypocrisy or the depth of hypocrisy? This, contributed by former Big Red Machinist Darrel Chaney, is supposedly how ESPN introduced a story on the Shohei Ohtani betting scandal. Or could have.

“Welcome back to SportsCenter, presented by ESPN Bet, for more on the Ohtani situation we go to our FanDuel MLB Insider Jeff Passan at our DraftKings studio in Los Angeles brought to you by Caesar’s Sportsbook. Jeff, how could something like this happen?”

—DON’T THROW A MEATBALL: Everybody wonders, “What does a pitching coach say to a pitcher during a mound visit?” Different things and some of the coaches don’t even swear.

For example, this one from Al Lautenslager’s excellent book, ‘Baseball Confidential.’

Chicago Cubs pitcher Bob Scanlan retired the first two batters in the ninth, one out from victory. Then he gave up two hits and pitching coach Billy Connors trudged to the mound and said, “Get this last out. I’m hungry. There’s lasagna waiting for us in the clubhouse.”

On the next pitch, the batter grounded out to end the game and Scanlan says, “Any time I get nervous, I just think about lasagna.”

—THE JOKE’S ON HIM: Bob Uecker, Mr. Baseball, is one of the earth’s funniest men with his self-deprecating comments about his career — six years, .200 career average, 14 home runs.

But of those 14 homers, three came against future Hall of Fame pitchers — Gaylord Perry, Ferguson Jenkins, Sandy Koufax.

“It was the worst day of my life,” said Perry. “Not just my baseball life, my whole life. My teammates laughed at me for a week.”
Said Uecker, “Every time I saw Sandy Koufax, I apologized for the home run I hit because I was afraid it might keep him out of the Hall of Fame.”

—A TEAM WITH NEW NAME: When the Oakland Athletics move to Las Vegas, they’ll need a new nickname. Athletics is too bland and stilted for the Sin City.

After long and deep thought, by George, I’ve got it. The Las Vegas Strippers.

That covers two facets: the Las Vegas strip and the vocation of so many young ladies in that environment.

Hey, MLB. You’re welcome and unbutton those stuffed shirts.

—PUT A ’30’ ON IT: The Boston Celtics, the best basketball team playing on a parquet floor or any other surface these days, blew a 30-point lead Monday night and lost to the Atlanta Hawks, 120-118.

True, the Celtics were missing two starters, but without them they constructed a 68-38 lead in the second quarter.

President Joe Biden, 104-year Sister Jean from Loyola Chicago and three blind mice shoud be able to hold a 30-point lead.

It was only the second time in NBA history that a team with the NBA’s best record squandered a 30-point lead.

A ’30’ at the bottom of newspaper copy signifies the end of a story. The Celtics certainly believed that 30-point lead was the end of the game.

It wasn’t.

As inventor Thomas Edison once said, “I have never failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” And the Celtics discovered 10,000 ways that won’t work to protect a 30-point lead.

—STAY AWAY FROM ‘A’: An interesting but meaninful factoid. . .and why Daytonians dislike Arizona, unless they can vacation under the scorching Sonoran Desert Sun.

Both Wright State and the University of Dayton were knocked out of March Madness during their last NCAA tournament appearances by the University of Arizona.

In 2022, after beating Bryant in the First Four at UD Arena, WSU lost to Arizona, 87-70, in San Diego.

This year, after beating Nevada, UD’s Flyers were stopped by Arizona, 78-68.

—ALL SMOKED OUT: Downtown Cincinnati’s Straus Tobacconist was more than a smoke-filled establishment that would choke Dumbo the elephant.

It was a hang-out for cigar-loving sports celebrities. Oscar Robertson, one of basketball’s legendary icons, was a daily visitor, puffing away in a comfortable leather chair. When Jack McKeon managed the Cincinnati Reds, he was a daily visitor surrounded by a halo of smoke.

Local and out-of-town baseball and football stars popped in — Jose Rijo, Johnny Bench, Dusty Baker, Joe Torre, Don Sutton, Chad Johnson (Ocho Cinco), Jeff Blake, Max Montoya, Mean Joe Greene. Joey Votto wandered in to purchase wine, “For my mother,” he said.

After pitching a no-hitter against the Reds, Cubs’ pitcher Jake Arrieta stopped in to purchse a Meerchaum pipe.

Straus opened in 1880 and is/was the third oldest cigar store in America. But owner Jim Clark is retiring and closing shop.

Shall we say a historic landmark is going up, well, not in smoke. . .without smoke.

—TRUE ASSESSMMENT: When Mike Tyson was 20, the youngest heavyweight boxing champion ever, trainer Angelo Dundee was asked a question about Tyson, who would lead a troublesome life of problems with the law.

“How do you fight Miike Tyson,” said Dundee. “With a gun.” Trouble is, Tyson probably also carried a gun.

—QUOTES WITHOUT QUALMS: More things that were said from the baseball world:

From former Cincinnati Reds manager Dave Bristol during a losing streak: “There will be two buses to the park today. The first one is at 3 o’clock for those that need extra work. The empty bus wll leave at 4 o’clock.”

From former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine: “The extra workout today is optional. Whoever doesn’t come gets optioned.”

From former manager Billy Martin, who was hired and fired five times by New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner: “When I pass people on the street these days, they don’t know whether to say hello or good-bye.”

From pitcher Claude Wright on pitching in Yankee Stadium. “I’d rather be in a ring with 15 pit bulls and no clothes on.”

From Tommy John when he pitched for the New York Yankees: “The Yankees are America’s Team — mom, hot dogs, apple pie, Gucci loafers and Rolls Royces.”

NON-PLAYLIST: Songs that won’t ever be found on my iPod because they assault my ears:

Achy Breaky Heart (Billy Joe Cyrus), Macarena (Los Del Rio), Copacabana (Barry Manilow), Afternoon Delight (Starland Vocal Band), Livin’ La Vida Loca (Ricky Martin), Final Countdown (Europe), La Bamba (Ritchie Valens), Kokomo (Beach Boys), I’m Too Sexy (Right Said Fred), Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? (Rod Stewart).

Disco Duck (Rick Dees & His Cast Of Idiots), Believe (Cher), What’s New, Pussycat? (Tom Jones), I Want Candy (The Strangeloves), We Built This City (Starship), Karma Chameleon (Culture Club), Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go (Wham), Tequila (The Champs), Bread And Butter (The Newbeats), You’re Having My Baby (Paul Anka), Don’t Worry, Be Haappy (Bobby McFerrin), My Sharona (The Knack).

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